Tag Archives: elk

IDFG Working On Access To 867K Acres Of Private Timber In Panhandle, Clearwater

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

A new partnership between Idaho Fish and Game and PotlatchDeltic will provide and preserve public access for hunting, fishing and trapping on 567,002 acres of private land in Benewah, Clearwater, Idaho, Latah and Shoshone counties through a lease agreement.

IDAHO HUNTING MANAGERS ARE CLOSE TO SECURING MORE THAN 1,300 SQUARE MILES OF ACCESS TO PRIVATE TIMBERLANDS IN NORTHERN IDAHO. TRASK APPLEGATE BAGGED THIS GREAT DWORSHAK RESERVOIR-AREA BUCK IN THE 2014 SEASON. (ONTARIO KNIFE CO. PHOTO CONTEST)

A second agreement expected to be finalized by early June is with a group of forestland owners and managers, including Stimson Lumber Co., Hancock Forest Management and Molpus Woodlands Group, to allow public access to more than 300,000 acres in Bonner, Boundary, Benewah, Shoshone and Kootenai counties.

Fish and Game will pay $1 per acre annually for the access, which includes hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife viewing, hiking and recreational travel limited to motor vehicle travel on roads open to full-sized vehicles. Restrictions on camping and ATV use may apply depending on the landowner’s rules.

“These agreements demonstrate Fish and Game’s continued commitment to putting money from the access/depredation fee to good use and provide hunters, anglers and trappers with access to private lands while compensating landowners for their support of those activities,” said Sal Palazzolo, F&G’s Private Lands/ Farm Bill Program Coordinator.

“PotlatchDeltic is pleased to partner with Idaho Fish and Game on this public access agreement. As the largest private timberland owner in Idaho, we recognize the importance of public access for recreational activities and the benefits for sportspersons and outdoor enthusiasts,” said Darin Ball, Vice President Resource, PotlatchDeltic.

The agreements came through Fish and Game’s new “large tracts” land lease program that targets multi-year access to parcels 50,000 acres or larger.

Lease agreements with all the companies will automatically renew for at least three years. Money for the leases comes from House Bill 230, which in 2017 established Fish and Game’s access/depredation fee that requires a $5 surcharge for residents and a $10 surcharge for nonresidents when they buy their first annual license of the year.

The access/depredation fund also pays for continued public access to 2.3 million acres of Idaho Department of Lands state endowment lands for hunting, fish, trapping and other recreation, which includes about $300,000 annually to the Department of Lands and Fish and Game providing law-enforcement services on endowment lands.

Fish and Game’s sportsman’s access programs also includes Access Yes!, which pays landowners to allow the public on, or through, their lands, and parcels accepted into that program go through an annual competitive bid process.

WDFW Shortfall Grows; Leaders Take Questions During Livestream

Washington fish and wildlife managers are now projecting they will have a $20 million budget shortfall over the coming two years — and it could more than double in the following two.

WDFW Director Kelly Susewind broke the news earlier this week during a 2.5-hour-long livestreamed virtual open house.

WDFW HONCHOS LINE A TABLE DURING MONDAY NIGHT’S LIVE-STREAMED DIGITAL OPEN HOUSE. (WDFW)

“We ended up with less than we needed to get through the biennium, which means we’re not going to be able to provide the services we had hoped to,” he said about the recently concluded legislative session.

Lawmakers did give WDFW a one-time $24 million General Fund bump to fill a preexisting $31 million hole instead of raising fishing and hunting license fees and extending the Columbia River salmon and steelhead endorsement.

But Susewind said that the shortfall also grew from that new initial $7 million difference to $20 million after legislators also “passed a lot of provisions that further increased our costs. Those increased costs came without additional revenue.”

WDFW DIRECTOR KELLY SUSEWIND. (WDFW)

This afternoon his budget and policy director Nate Pamplin said the $13 million ballooning was due to increased salaries for staffers and “other central service costs” that weren’t matched with new revenues; lower than expected disbursements from both the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts; and one-time hits from things like the Skagit catch-and-release wild steelhead fishery and Fish Washington app that would have been funded through the fee bill but now must be another way or get cut.

“We’re still reviewing what has been identified as at risk and trying to balance the budget,” Pamplin said.

Back on Monday’s live stream, Susewind acknowledged that legislators had “front loaded” the agency’s General Fund contribution towards the first year of the two-year budget “to come as close as we can to staying whole” in anticipation of working on it again when state senators and representatives return to Olympia next January .

But he also projected that the shortfall could grow to $46 million during the 2021-23 biennium if nothing’s done.

SUSEWIND HAS BEEN MAKING MORE USE of new ways to talk to WDFW’s constituents than past directors, and in this latest virtual town meeting he brought in a bevy of department heads and managers to talk about their programs and expertises.

But it also included about an hour’s worth of questions sent in by the public as they watched, and as you can imagine many inquiries dealt with the hot-button topics of the day — wolves, North of Falcon, Columbia fisheries.

One of the first questions was from a gentleman by the name of Bill who felt that over the past three years there’s been a lot of lost fishing opportunity and he wanted to know how WDFW was supporting sport anglers.

“We’re trying to maximize the opportunities within the constraints we have,” Susewind stated.

Those restrictions include all the Endangered Species Act listings on fish stocks that often swim alongside healthier ones, fisheries that require extensive and not-cheap monitoring for the state to receive federal permits to hold them.

DRIFT BOAT ANGLERS MAKE THEIR WAY DOWN THE SAUK RIVER DURING APRIL 2018’S 12-DAY FISHERY. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Susewind said the agency was looking at ways to increase hatchery production, and he pointed to spill down the Columbia system to aid outmigrating smolts as well as habitat work to increase wild returns which would mean higher allowable impact rates on listed stocks

“This is an area I want to be direct with folks,” Susewind said. “I know there’s a ton of frustration around lack of opportunity at the same time we asked for an increase. I’d just ask folks to think through the situation. In these times of incredible constraints, declining runs, it costs more to actually provide the opportunity. The declining opportunity, the effort it takes to provide what opportunity is available is more.

“You all can make your own choice whether it’s a good investment if fees are worth it or not, but those fees are what are going to allow us to continue to manage, to allow us to hopefully turn around this run return and allow us to provide more opportunities,” he said, adding, “That’s what we’re trying to do. Time will tell if we’re successful.”

Asked whether WDFW was considering any early retirements to reduce the budget hole, Susewind said he couldn’t do that without a change in state law, but that staff cuts and not filling vacancies were being looked at.

A woman named Carol asked about a “conservation license,” and Susewind expressed some interest in it as a funding source though also for more durable, across the board funding. Pamplin added that the Reclaiming America’s Wildlife Act now in Congress was a “potential game changer … for us to invest in areas that need support.”

WDFW’s twin mandate tears it between providing harvest opportunities which raise money to pour back into providing more while also having to protect imperiled species that suck money the other way.

TWO WOLVES ROAM ACROSS A SNOWY EASTERN WASHINGTON LANDSCAPE. (UW)

THIS AND RECENT YEARS HAVE SEEN A LOT OF ANGER about the results from North of Falcon salmon-season-setting negotiations and the pruning of opportunities in inland saltwaters, and during the livestream, a question from Chad asked why there couldn’t be open meetings between WDFW and all Western Washington tribes.

Susewind, who just emerged from his first iteration of the annual set-to, called the idea unwieldy and said that the agency had a responsibility to represent its stakeholders during the talks but that that didn’t allow for them to behind those closed doors.

Salmon policy lead Kyle Adicks was more blunt.

“The tribes are sovereign governments. They don’t have to meet with us if they don’t want to. They don’t have to meet with members of our public if they don’t want to,” he said. “Ultimately it’s the tribes’ decision: If they want to have a government-to-government meeting, then that’s what we have.”

RON GARNER, PUGET SOUND ANGLERS PRESIDENT, SPEAKS AT AN ANGLERS RALLY IN LACEY, WASH., IN MAY 2016 AS STATE-TRIBAL NORTH OF FALCON NEGOTIATIONS WERE AT AN IMPASSE AFFECTING THE STATE OF THAT YEAR’S SEASONS. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

WDFW piggybacks on the tribes’ federal nexus to get sport salmon seasons approved faster than they otherwise might be.

While Adicks also pointed back to a January 2017 Fish and Wildlife Commission briefing on the Open Public Meetings and Administrative Procedures Acts, in recent days a long-threatened legal challenge has been filed that contends that how WDFW sets salmon seasons with the tribes violates those two state laws.

Filed by Twin Harbors Fish and Wildlife Advocacy of McCleary, the petition asks a Thurston County Superior Court judge to throw out the state’s adopted 2019-20 salmon seasons.

WDFW had no comment when I asked about the matter earlier this week — “As you probably know, we don’t comment on ongoing litigation” — but did pass along their efforts to increase transparency:

WDFW values and works hard to provide transparency in the development of fishing seasons. The development of fishing seasons also includes work with tribal co-managers, and those meetings involve highly sensitive government-to-government negotiations with 20 individual treaty tribes during the North of Falcon process.

In 2019, the department held more than a dozen public meetings to discuss potential salmon seasons in various locations around the state. Three of the meetings were live-streamed on WDFW’s website and made available for the public to watch later. WDFW also provided the public with the option to submit comments electronically through the department’s website. During the closing portion of North of Falcon negotiations, which took place during the Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in California, the department had daily conference calls with advisors and constituents to discuss the latest developments.

ANOTHER QUESTION FOCUSED ON WHY the Fish and Wildlife Commission had allowed gillnets back into the Columbia this year, gear that had been schedule to be phased out by 2017 under fishery reforms.

Susewind called that policy an adaptive one that aimed to keep commercial fisheries viable on the big river too but that replacement gear hasn’t been figured out, so the citizen panel decided to extend gillnetting “while we figure out how to implement the rest of the policy.”

With spring Chinook now coming in far below forecast and summer Chinook not even opening, gillnetting this year will be limited to a handful of days targeting fall Chinook near Vancouver at the end of summer.

A GUIDE BOAT RUNS UP THE LOWER COLUMBIA DURING 2014’S BUOY 10 FALL SALMON FISHERY. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Dozens more questions were asked and they covered the gamut:

* What WDFW was doing to increase branch-antler bull elk opportunities;

* How much  it costs to investigate wolf depredations;

* Whether WDFW plans to dispute the status of perennially fishery constraining mid-Hood Canal Chinook as a distinct stock (they’re essentially locally adapted Green/Duwamish strays released into the Skokomish);

* Reducing commercial bycatch;

* If WDFW was considering opening a spring bear general season;

  • What the agency was doing to increase access to salmon and steelhead, boosting mule deer and elk populations, and upping steelhead production;

* If WDFW can fine people who create repeat predator issues;

  • If Westside- and Eastside-only deer tags were possible;

* Instead of bag limits, if tags for salmon were possible;

* The latest on Southwest Washington hoof rot.

* And why weren’t WDFW staffers required to be hunters and anglers.

To see WDFW’s responses, skip to about the 1:23:00-mark of the digital open house.

A SOUTHEAST WASHINGTON MULE DEER BUCK PUTS DISTANCE BETWEEN ITSELF AND PHOTOGRAPHER-HUNTER CHAD ZOLLER. (ONTARIO KNIFE CO. PHOTO CONTEST)

“I hope we have your continued support as we try to turn this around and provide more opportunity in this state for hunting and fishing,” Susewind said in wrapping it up.

As he stated earlier, time will tell if WDFW is successful.

RMEF Celebrates 35th Year Of Elk, Wildlife Conservation Work

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION

Thirty-five years after its founding on May 14, 1984, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) is celebrating decades of conservation success.

A BRONZE BULL BUGLES OUTSIDE THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION’S MISSOULA HEADQUARTERS. (RMEF)

“Quite simply, the growth and accomplishments of this organization are staggering,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “It began with four elk hunters in northwest Montana who struggled as they opened shop in a doublewide trailer, but did so with determination and a vision to ensure the future of elk and elk country. And here we are 35 years later with 235,000 members and a mission that continues to gain more and more momentum for the benefit of elk, other wildlife, conservation and hunting.”

To date, RMEF and its partners completed nearly 12,000 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects with a combined value of more than $1.1 billion. Those projects protected or enhanced more than 7.4 million acres of wildlife habitat and opened or improved access to more than 1.2 million acres.

RMEF facts:

  • Protected or enhanced nearly one square mile of habitat every day since its founding in 1984
  • 7.4 million acres protected/enhanced = roughly three and one half times the size of Yellowstone National Park
  • 1.2 million acres opened/improved public access = roughly two and one half times the size of Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Assisted with successful restoration of elk in Kentucky (estimated 2019 population of 11,000+), Missouri (150), North Carolina (150), Tennessee (500), Virginia (200), West Virginia (120), Wisconsin (280) and Ontario, Canada (650-1,000)
  • Ten consecutive years of record membership growth
  • 12,000 volunteers across 500+ chapters
  • Advocated for public access to public lands, reauthorization of Land and Water Conservation Fund, wolf & grizzly delisting, forest management reform, other conservation issues

“We cannot thank all of our volunteers, members, sponsors, donors and partners enough for the past 35 years of conservation success,” said Weaver. “We honor that incredible legacy by pledging to do more to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage in the years to come.”

Corvallis Man Loses Hunting Privileges For 8 Years After Wildlife Crimes

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON STATE POLICE FISH AND WILDLIFE DIVISION

Anthony A. Coleman, age 33, from Corvallis, pleaded guilty in the Benton County Circuit Court to two counts of Taking, Angling, Hunting, or Trapping in Violation in Wildlife Law or Rule and Possession of Prohibited Firearm as Class A Misdemeanors.

ANTHONY A. COLEMAN. (OSP)

He was sentenced to:

· Hunting privileges suspended for a period of 8 years

· 36 months bench probation to include no participation in hunting, trapping, or shed hunting activities

· $20,400 in fines, fees, and restitution

· 30 days of work crew

· Forfeiture of all seized rifles, bows and animal parts

· 10 days in jail

AN IMAGE ACCOMPANYING AN OREGON STATE POLICE PRESS RELEASE ON THE CASE SHOWS NUMEROUS TROPHY MOUNTS AS WELL AS A BOW. (OSP)

The charges stemmed from an investigation which resulted in the service of several search warrants by the Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division Mid-Valley Team last year.

The investigation began when an anonymous person advised Troopers of Coleman killing two bull elk on the same day. The search warrants served led to multiple other charges to include a buck deer that was killed out of season and a short-barreled rifle found in possession of Coleman.

The three charges Coleman plead guilty to was part of a plea agreement offered by the Benton County DA’s Office. Multiple charges relating to the unlawful taking of big game animals were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

ODFW Premium, Controlled Hunt App Deadline May 15; Heads Up On Baker Co. Ranch Access

THE FOLLOWING ARE PRESS RELEASES FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

One week left to apply for “Premium” hunt of a lifetime and other controlled hunts: Deadline May 15, 2019

It’s the hunt of a lifetime—though you can win it more than once.

Premium Hunts (see photos) are Oregon’s premiere hunting opportunity for both residents and non-residents—deer, elk and pronghorn antelope tags with a four-month season (Aug. 1-Nov. 30) and any-sex bag limit.

FOURTEEN-YEAR-OLD DAMON STEELHAMMER OF EUGENE POSES WITH HIS FOSSIL UNIT BULL ELK, TAKEN ON DAY FIVE OF A PREMIUM TAG HUNT LAST SEASON. (BRYAN MURPHY VIA ODFW)

Like all limited-entry controlled hunts, applications are $8, and due no later than 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, May 15. Premium Hunt tags also cost the same as other big game tags.

But the draw for Premium Hunts is not based on preference points, so everyone has an equal chance to draw each year. And unlike “once-in-a-lifetime” bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain goat tags, Premium Hunts can be drawn again and again.

Premium Hunts are also considered additional tags—meaning winners can still hunt on their regular controlled or general season big game tag.

Finally, both residents and non-residents can apply and both have an equal chance to draw.

How to apply
It’s easy to apply online at www.myodfw.com Click the “Buy License/Apply for tag” button and login. If you haven’t created an online account yet, use Verify/Look Up Account to find your profile and create one. (All hunters and anglers who have purchased an annual license in the past three years, have preference points, or have Pioneer or Disability status need to use Verify/Look Up Account as they already have a profile in the new system.)

Once you are logged in or have set up your account, go to Purchase from the Catalog / Big Game Hunting / Controlled Hunts and choose the deer, elk or pronghorn antelope Premium Hunt application. Then Proceed to Checkout to make your hunt selections (hunts are selected before you enter your payment information and complete the purchase). Reminder that as with all controlled hunt applications, a hunting license is required to apply. For a step-by-step guide to applying online, visit https://medium.com/@MyODFW/how-to-apply-for-a-controlled-hunt-online-ed08f04b0345

One Premium deer, elk or pronghorn antelope tag is available in just about every unit where these species occur, see page 64-66 of 2019 Oregon Big Game Regulations or the online regulations (http://www.eregulations.com/oregon/big-game-hunting/premium-hunts/) for details and hunt numbers.

You can also apply for Premium and all other controlled hunts at ODFW offices that sell licenses and at license sale agents. Hunters are encouraged to apply as soon as possible to avoid long lines on deadline day.

More about Premium Hunts
ODFW first introduced Premium Hunts in 2016 to offer every hunter the chance to win the hunt of a lifetime at the cost of a regular tag. Last year, the Wenaha elk, Metolius deer, and W Beaty Butte-N70B pronghorn antelope were the most sought-after hunts with the most first-choice applicants. Find out more about the most and least applied for hunts at https://myodfw.com/articles/premium-big-game-hunts

To see photos and stories from 2018 Premium Hunt winners, visit https://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/hunting/premium_hunts/2018_winners/EverallDeerMurderersCreekcreditAndyDill.asp

…….

Lookout Mt. hunters: Forsea Ranch Access Area not available for fall big game hunting

Hunters should be aware that the Forsea Ranch Access Area is ending its participation in the Access and Habitat (A and H) program and will not be available to hunt through the program after July 31, 2019.

The property had provided open “Welcome to Hunt” access to more than 9,000 acres of private land in the Lookout Mt. Unit (Baker County). Hunters applying for fall big game controlled hunts in the unit will not be able to hunt this access area through the A and H program this fall.

AN ODFW HUNTING MAP SHOWS THE FORSEA RANCH, WHICH IS PULLING OUT OF THE STATE AGENCY’S ACCESS PROGRAM FOLLOWING A DISPUTE OVER A ROAD WITH BAKER COUNTY. (ODFW)

The fall controlled hunts affected are #164 (buck deer); #s 264A1, 264A2, 264X, 264Y (elk); #464 (pronghorn antelope); #s 564A1 and 564A2 (bighorn sheep). The deadline to apply for all fall controlled hunts is next Wednesday, May 15.

Hunters who have already applied for a controlled hunt in Lookout Mt and wish to change their hunt choice based on the closure of Forsea Ranch Access Area have until June 1 to do so. The easiest way to change a hunt choice is to login to your MyODFW.com account, go to Recreational Portfolio/Controlled Hunts and then click the Edit button next to Hunt Choices. Hunters who haven’t logged in to their online account yet should use the “Verify/Look Up Your account” button to retrieve and set up their online account.

Hunt choices can also be changed through June 1 at ODFW offices that sell licenses, at license sale agents, or by contacting Licensing (odfw.websales@state.or.us, tel. (503) 947-6101).

Forsea Ranch Access Area participated in ODFW’s A and H Program, which provides grants to landowners to allow hunters to access their private land. The property was originally scheduled to be in the program through 2021.

The landowner notified ODFW late last week that he was “regretfully” discontinuing participation in the program as of July 31, 2019 due to a disagreement with Baker County involving a public road.

Lookout Mt. is only 38 percent public land so A and H properties provide important hunter access in the unit. Other A and H properties in the unit include Widman Access Area, Troy Ranches Access Area, MR King Access Area, Virtue Flat Access Area and Iron Mountain Access Area. Find more information at https://myodfw.com/articles/hunting-access-map

RMEF Details $355,000 In Oregon Elk Habitat, Research Grants

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation provided $355,128 in grants to fund nearly two dozen habitat enhancement and elk research projects in Oregon.

(RMEF)

The projects benefit 10,317 acres of wildlife habitat across Coos, Crook, Curry, Douglas, Grant, Harney, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Morrow, Tillamook, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa and Yamhill Counties. One of the projects benefits much of eastern Oregon.

“There is a great need to gain a better understanding of the productivity of elk populations as well as movement, behavior, private versus public habitat usage and other issues that affect elk in Oregon. That, in part, is why we provided grant funding for five detailed research projects,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “The funding also goes toward prescribed burning, forest thinning, meadow restoration, noxious weed treatment and other work that enhances habitat for elk and other wildlife.”

RMEF has 27 chapters and more than 17,000 members in Oregon.

“Elk and elk country in Oregon have our volunteers to thank for generating this funding by hosting banquets, membership drives and other events. We so appreciate their time and talents as well as their dedication to our conservation mission,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO.

Below is a sampling of Oregon’s 2019 projects, listed by county:

Coos County

  • Plant native grasses and forbs within coastal forest openings across 93 acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land to improve forage for wildlife (also benefits Douglas and Curry Counties).

Crook County

  • Seed 455 acres of meadow, sagebrush and aspen habitat on the Ochoco National Forest. Crews will also burn slash piles created during 2018 thinning operations. The project area is utilized year-round by elk and also benefits mule deer, antelope, wild turkey, California and mountain quail, Hungarian partridge and other species.
  • Enhance about 1,345 acres of wildlife habitat on the northern edge of the Ochoco National Forest. Treatments include meadow restoration, aspen enhancement and protection, improving big game security through installing effective barriers on closed roads and reconnection of the floodplain through stream restoration and riparian improvements.

Douglas County

  • Provide funding for lab analysis of forage clippings taken in spring and fall as part of a study examining multiple native seed mixes to determine the best mix for elk forage based on consumption and nutritional content. Provide funding for six GPS collars to be placed on bull elk as part of a study to define elk ranges in western Oregon including habitat use and movements, survival rates and mortality causes. The findings will assist with improved overall elk management (also benefits Coos, Linn and Lane Counties).
  • Provide funding for a study to determine whether sampling and extracting DNA from fecal pellets is a reliable way to estimate elk populations. Currently, biologists conduct counts via helicopter surveys but they lack effectiveness due to heavy, dense forests (also benefits Coos, Linn and Lane Counties).

Grant County

  • Complete seeding of 100 acres that were heavily encroached by junipers and previously treated via cutting, piling and pile burning as part of a continuing effort to improve elk and deer range in the Sage Brush Basin. Treat 400 acres of winter range for elk. mule deer and antelope on the Phillip W. Schneider Wildlife Management Area through chemical control of invasive annual grasses followed by drill seeding with a desirable perennial grass mix.
  • Restore aspen stands by removing encroaching conifers covering 155 acres along streams and meadows on the Malheur National Forest. This marks the first phase of a project encompassing 17,500 acres 14 miles south of John Day.

Harney County

  • Provide funding for a holistic approach to increase the quality of elk habitat across 3,280 acres on the Malheur National Forest and BLM land. Crews will refurbish five water guzzlers, improve elk security, distribute native grass and mountain shrub seed and apply noxious weed treatment.
  • Remove juniper from 288 acres of BLM land to improve the health and vigor of aspen stands and riparian areas used by elk, mule deer and greater sage grouse in the Little Bridge Creek drainage.

Klamath County

  • Provide funding to assist with the construction of a wildlife crossing under a new bridge along U.S. 97 at milepost 180. Specifically, RMEF funds will go toward the installation of 10 miles of fencing to help funnel elk and deer to the undercrossing.

Lake County

  • Treat 891 acres of elk summer range in the North Warner Mountains on the Fremont-Winema National Forest. This is the fourth year of a seven-year effort to restore aspen on a landscape-scale while also improving wildlife habitat and creating both natural firebreaks and local jobs.

Lane County

  • Use mechanical mowing, chain saws and other means to improve 180 acres of meadow habitat on the Siuslaw National Forest. Annual maintenance prevents the incursion of invasive vegetation and benefits elk, black-tailed deer and other bird and animal life (also benefits Lincoln and Douglas Counties).
  • Prescribed burn 100 acres to trigger the growth of native vegetation and improve overall forest health on the Willamette National Forest. The treatment is part of the multi-year Jim’s Creek Restoration Project to return the area to its historic state of scattered Douglas fir, ponderosa pine and Oregon white oak stands with a dense bunchgrass understory.
  • Apply a variety of treatments to benefit wildlife habitat across 161 acres in the McKenzie River Ranger District on the Willamette National Forest. Specific approaches include noxious weed treatment, prescribed burning, mulching, planting seed and wetland enhancement.

Linn County

  • Apply a combination of forest thinning, prescribed fire, seeding and other treatments to restore meadow and wetland habitat at three sites in the Western Cascade Mountains on the Willamette National Forest (also benefits Lane County).
  • Apply a combination of treatments to enhance and restore six mountain meadows over 157 acres where non-native species and encroaching conifers are affecting habitat in the Sweet Home Ranger District on the Willamette National Forest.

Marion County

  • Restore and maintain a 38-acre large mountain meadow on BLM land northeast of Gates that is a migration corridor and provides summer forage.

Tillamook County

  • Maintain and restore 135 acres of meadows in the Hebo Ranger District on the Siuslaw National Forest. Crews will institute a combination of noxious weed, forest thinning and planting treatments to expand existing meadows by removing competing vegetation (also benefits Lincoln and Yamhill Counties).

Umatilla County

  • Provide funding for research to provide biologists a better understanding why elk are shifting their range from public to private lands in the Blue Mountains. Crews will capture and place GPS collars on 50 cow elk so biologists can monitor their migration and use of summer and winter range while also aiming to reduce private land damage and increase hunting opportunity (also benefits Morrow County).
  • Treat 555 acres on the Bridge Creek Wildlife Management Area to control invasive weeds and stimulate the growth of desirable grasses and forbs.

Union County

  • Thin 600 acres of young, overstocked conifer stands on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest followed by slash treatment and pile and burning. Improving habitat will increase the quality of forage on yearlong elk habitat and reduce elk damage on nearby private land.
  • Treat 2,000 acres across the Grande Ronde and Catherine Creek watersheds on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in the Blue Mountains to remove noxious weeds that degrade the quality and quantity of elk forage.

Wallowa County

  • Prescribe burn 500 acres on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest to remove decadent grasses and shrubs as well as stimulate regrowth in open grasslands and the understory of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir stands. The project is part of a10-year effort to burn more than 5,000 acres within the Chesnimnus Wildlife Management Unit to improve elk distribution and draw them away from private property where damage complaints are common.

Eastern Oregon

  • Provide funding for research to gain a better understanding why elk populations are declining across wide areas of the northwestern United States. Researchers will apply a time series approach across three different landscapes to analyze population responses to several disturbance agents such as forestry, fire and grazing.

OHA Annual Convention Set For Mid-May in Lincoln City

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON HUNTERS ASSOCIATION

The auction of an Oregon Access and Habitat Statewide Elk Tag – good for a four-month season nearly anywhere in the state, and the drawings for 12 dream hunt raffles for deer, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep and mountain goat will highlight the events when the Oregon Hunters Association’s annual State Convention returns to Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln City on May 18.

The statewide elk tag and big game hunt raffles are sponsored by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and generate funds earmarked for each species, as well as wildlife habitat and hunting access programs.

The public is welcome to attend the event or bid on the statewide elk tag by telephone the night of the event. For ticket information, visit www.oregonhunters.org. For more information, or to register to bid by phone, contact the OHA state office at (541) 772-7313. Tickets must be purchased by May 8.

Other highlights of the live and silent auctions, which feature more than 100 items, include safaris in Africa and Argentina, North American hunting and fishing trips, getaways, top quality firearms, hunting gear and fine art.

The annual convention is the biggest fund-raising banquet of the year for OHA, the largest Oregon-based pro-hunting group with 26 chapters and 10,000 members statewide.

Other featured raffles at the event will offer more than 100 items worth more than $30,000, including firearms, hunting optics, gear and wildlife art. Raffles include the popular annual Les Schwab Raffle, this year featuring a Sig optics combo, and the new Coastal Farm & Ranch Raffle, featuring a Nosler Custom M48 Liberty rifle.

One OHA membership is required per couple or group. A one-year membership is $35 for individuals and $45 for families and includes a subscription to Oregon Hunter magazine and the Oregon Hunter’s Calendar.

There will be complimentary drawings for kids, ladies, OHA life members and – on Armed Forces Day – our veterans.

All funds raised stay in Oregon to support OHA’s mission of protecting Oregon’s wildlife, habitat and hunting heritage.

 

Washington Lawmakers Approve Adding Pink To Hunters’ Wardrobe

A bill allowing Washington hunters to wear bright pink instead of just blaze orange while pursuing deer and elk with a rifle, among other game, is headed to Governor Inslee’s desk.

Washington senators and representatives unanimously passed SB 5148, which would make the state at least the eighth to OK the color for meeting hunter safety visibility requirements in the field.

SEN. LYNDA WILSON TESTIFIES IN SUPPORT OF HER HUNTER PINK BILL WHILE WEARING A PINK CAMO HUNTING VEST IN THIS SCREENSHOT FROM TVW. (TVW)

It was sponsored by Sen. Lynda Wilson, a Clark County Republican who has been undergoing treatment for breast cancer and whose husband went hunting last fall while wearing a pink T-shirt in support of her.

“Depending on the time of year, the leaves on the trees can be almost as bright as the fluorescent orange that is now the only safety color allowed in Washington,” said Wilson in a press release. “Blaze pink doesn’t look like anything else in the forest or field, and more visibility means more safety.”

She added that it could also attract more hunters to the field and thus more dollars in support of wildlife management.

Wilson’s bill was supported by the Hunters Heritage Council and WDFW during a January public hearing.

It essentially requires the Fish and Wildlife Commission to add pink to requirements that deer and elk hunters, along with those pursuing other game during open modern firearm deer and elk season, must wear at least 400 square inches of orange clothing above the waist.

The bill passed out of the Senate in February on a 48-0 vote and the House early this month on a 92-0 vote. If signed, it becomes effective 90 days after the legislature is adjourned.

Other states that have OKed blaze pink include Wisconsin, which was first to do so, Colorado, Louisiana and New York in 2016; Virginia in 2017; and Wyoming and Illinois in 2018.

It’s been rejected as a substitute for orange in Michigan, Montana and Maine.

Arkansas has allowed chartreuse since at least 2010.

Tough Winter For Elk, Deer, Even New Pronghorns In Southeast Washington

Editor’s note: Updated April 11, 2019 with comments from WDFW biologist Michael Atamian

The six-by-seven bull rose with the rest of the herd of 150-plus elk that bitterly cold March morning outside Walla Walla and began trudging south through the snow.

But then as Scott Rasley, a longtime WDFW staffer and wildlife conflict specialist for the Blue Mountains, watched the animals make their way towards the Oregon state line, “like they do every morning,” he witnessed something extraordinary.

THIS ELK GOT UP WITH THE REST OF ITS HERD ON A SUBZERO MORNING NEAR WALLA WALLA THIS PAST WINTER BUT THEN SIMPLY DIED A SHORT WHILE LATER. (SCOTT RASLEY, WDFW)

The big bull turned to its left, then “laid down, put his head back, and died in 30 seconds.”

Didn’t take any final breaths, didn’t let out any death moans. Just. Died. On the spot.

“I have never seen anything like that in 38 years,” Rasley said.

He said the bull otherwise looked like it was in OK shape and was suffering no apparent external injuries.

“The bull had the normal amount of lack of fat that we would find this time of year. And after a late and very cold snowy winter, basically none,” Rasley said.

It was a hard thing for him to see, given how he much he’s enjoyed working with elk — “a magnificent animal” — for WDFW in some of the state’s best wapiti country over the past 35 years.

“I always hate to see a magnificent bull like this die for no reason,” Rasley said.

THE BULL WDFW’S SCOTT RASLEY SAW DIE WAS PART OF THIS HERD OF 26 BULLS AND MORE THAN 130 COWS AND CALVES. (WDFW)

But it’s also symbolic of the harsh conditions Eastern Washington deer, elk and antelope suffered through in February as below-zero temperatures and record or near-record snows hit the region and lingered well into March, burying forage and pushing the animals below their normal winter range habitats.

The bull’s death and those of other critters are briefly described in recent biweekly WDFW Wildlife Program reports from February and last month.

“Veterinarian Mansfield and Wildlife Health Technician Cole have been receiving an increase in reports of dead mule deer in eastern Washington,” reads one section of the March 1-15 report. “To date, necropsies and laboratory testing indicate that the deer are in a state of chronic negative energy balance, likely a result of prolonged winter weather and deep snow pack.”

It states that one deer had a “severe” ulcer, probably because it had been suddenly forced to forage on things its stomach couldn’t deal with.

“When eaten, they ferment in the stomach, producing large amounts of acid, which cause ulcers and enter the bloodstream, usually resulting in death,” the report states in reminding us that it’s not as easy as just putting out piles of corn or whatnot for starving critters.

That report and others from February show photos of carcasses of deer found on the Grande Ronde and recently translocated pronghorns near Tri-Cities, as well as a cow elk in the snow on the 4-O Wildlife Area that was still alive but too weak to stand with the end near.

“We lost a lot of deer along the Snake River, as well,” Rasley added. “Most were last year’s fawns. I can’t remember the last time we had 40 mile an hour north winds with below zero temps and heavy snow at the same time. Pretty sad.”

Most impacts occurred east of the Cascades, but hungry trumpeter swans in the Sequim area “decimated” an organic farm’s broccoli and cauliflower crops when everything else was under a heavy blanket of snow, according to one report.

With winter-weary deer and elk expected to struggle through more bad weather, in early March WDFW closed several wildlife area units on the eastern side of the Blue Mountains to public access to reduce disturbance on wintering game. On the south side of the range, ODFW urged shed antler hunters to postpone their searches.

But the Wildlife Program reports also share images or stories of wildlife powering through late winter — a herd of 23 bulls hunkered behind a tree line to get out of a cold wind on a 3-degree day; the snow burrows of sage grouse in the northern Columbia Basin; large numbers of elk gathered at Yakima and Kittitas Counties’ feedlots; turkeys in hay barns; a cougar taking shelter under a barn.

ELK BEHIND A TREE LINE WAIT OUT STRONG NORTH WINDS. (SCOTT RASLEY, WDFW)

It’s the nature of nature, the strong — and the lucky and the accidents of birth — survive the cold season to reproduce, strengthening the herds and flocks.

I  emailed a number of wildlife biologists across the Eastside’s southern tier to find out how this winter compared to the last harsh one that hit this country, 2016-17, which began a lot earlier.

Paul Wik, the district bio for the Blues, feels that 2018-19 was “likely less severe” of a winter than two years ago because the worst weather occurred during a seven- to eight-week window.

But he also thinks the animals may have gone into it with less fuel in the tank, per se.

“I think that the animals were likely in poorer condition than normal going into this winter due to the lack of fall green-up that normally occurs,” Wik said. “With the fall rains occurring too late in the year for grass to germinate in the fall, the deer and elk were not able to access higher nutritional forage in the fall, predisposing them to the severe late-winter conditions.”

As for the impact hunters might see, he says some parts of his district could see reduced deer harvest, the impact may be larger in 2021 when last year’s fawns would be legal bucks.

“Our deer surveys in December documented normal fawn recruitment, but that was prior to the winter weather which may have impacted them,” Wik said.

In the district to the north of him, Michael Atamian said it was “hard” on deer and elk.

“In general I would say it was not as hard as the 2016-17 winter in Spokane and Lincoln Counties. However, in southwest Whitman County this year was likely a bit harder than 2016-17 on mule deer,” he reported.

“We might see a bit of an impact in harvest success a couple years down the line in the Whitman County area,” Atamian noted, adding, “However, the ability of a hunter to secure private land access will have greater impact on their success overall.”

RMEF Awards $310,000 For Washington Elk Projects

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation awarded $309,735 in grant funding to benefit elk and elk habitat in Washington.

“Noxious weeds and overly dense forests continue to choke out quality forage for elk and other wildlife. The majority of these 2019 habitat stewardship projects tackle these issues head-on,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “We also designated funding for scientific research to monitor the potential impact habitat modification has on predator-prey interactions.”

SUN BLAZES OVER WASHINGTON ELK COUNTRY. (RMEF)

Seventeen projects positively impact more than 4,000 acres of wildlife habitat in Asotin, Columbia, Cowlitz, Ferry, Garfield, Kittitas, Lewis, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Stevens and Yakima Counties.

Washington is home to more than 15,000 RMEF members and 25 chapters.

“We can’t say enough about our dedicated volunteers,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “They generate revenue by hosting banquets, membership drives and other events that goes back on the ground in Washington and around the country to benefit our conservation mission.”

Since 1985, RMEF and its partners completed 661 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Washington with a combined value of more than $122.6 million. These projects protected or enhanced 479,785 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 125,245 acres.

Below is a listing of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s 2019 grants for the state of Washington.

Asotin County

  • Apply noxious weed treatment across 225 acres of public and private land to prevent the spread of rush skeletonweed, whitetop, spotted knapweed, hawkweeds and sulfur cinquefoil. RMEF supported the Asotin County weed control program since 2007.
  • Apply noxious weed treatment across 300 acres of Bureau of Land Management and private lands within the Lower Grande Ronde River drainages. The area provides prime habitat for fish, big game and native wildlife.
  • Apply noxious weed treatment across 500 acres within the Chief Joseph and W. T. Wooten Wildlife Areas where invasive weeds are a significant issue (also benefits Garfield and Columbia Counties).

Cowlitz County

  • Plant a variety of species within patches 3 to 10 acres in size, covering 60 total acres, to diversify elk and other wildlife habitat on the Mount St. Helens Wildlife Area.
  • Apply lime and fertilizer followed by planting trees, shrubs and a grass seed mix across 200 acres in the Toutle River Valley, home to the highest winter concentration of elk near Mount Saint Helen’s.
  • Treat noxious weeds across 150 acres within the Mount St. Helens Wildlife Area and Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument (also benefits Skamania County).

Kittitas County

  • Restore 732 acres within the 2018 Milepost 22 Wildfire burn zone that charred the L. T. Murray Wildlife Area, home to year-round winter habitat for elk and other wildlife. Crews will use both an aerial and ground-based approach to treat a potential noxious weed outbreak.

Lewis County

  • Provide funding for research on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest to monitor how and where elk seek and find forage in areas where timber production takes place. Results will inform managers of the potential role for variable density thinning in providing elk foraging habitat on the west slope of the Washington Cascades.

Okanogan County

  • Provide funding for the Mid Valley Archers Memorial Day Shoot, a family-friendly event focused on providing instruction and fun for archers of all ages.
  • Provide funding for the annual Bonaparte Lake Kid’s Fishing Day (also benefits Ferry County).

Pend Oreille County

  • Thin seedlings and small pole-sized trees from 33 acres of dense conifer stands in the Indian Creek watershed on the Colville National Forest. The area is winter and year-long range for the Selkirk elk herd.

Skamania County

  • Treat 1,215 acres of meadows and adjacent roads/right-of-ways on the south end of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. These meadows provide vital forage for the Mount St. Helens elk herd.
  • Transform six acres of mid-successional forest within the Upper Lewis River watershed into a grassy meadow to provide forage for big game species.

Stevens County

  • Provide funding for scientific research to conduct vegetation surveys across elk habitat that intersects with wolf range. Scientists will pair that information with elk movement and survivorship data to determine how human modifications of the landscape influence elk (also benefits Pend Oreille County).

Yakima County

  • Thin 426 acres on the Oak Creek Wildlife Area to promote high quality habitat for elk and other wildlife.
  • Restore native grasses and forbs to an estimated 350 acres on the Wenas Wildlife Area that was affected by the 2018 Buffalo Wildfire. Crews will apply noxious weed treatment followed by seeding.
  • Provide funding for the Kamiakin Roving Archers, a youth archery development league participant, to purchase archery supplies for the upcoming season. The program provides shooting instruction and training on archery equipment with an emphasis on safety and responsibility.